Long-term investigation leads to meth bust | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Long-term investigation leads to meth bust

A two-month investigation by three task force agencies uncovered a drug operation that linked Mexico and Reno to the South Lake Tahoe area.

Thomas Landa, 35, a Mexican national living in Reno, was arrested in the parking lot of Harveys Resort Hotel/Casino Jan. 7 on suspicion of trafficking methamphetamine. He reportedly attempted to sell a pound of the drug to undercover agents.

Tony Sidley, director of SLEDNET, South Shore’s multiagency narcotics task force, said the operation was a joint effort by his agency, the DEA, and the Consolidated Narcotic Unit in Reno. Landa, who is being held without bail in the Washoe County Jail, is awaiting trial in the U.S. District Court in Reno on federal drug trafficking charges.

Sidley said during the last six months SLEDNET investigators have noticed an increase in methamphetamine trafficking in the South Shore area.

“We’ve seen more in the last six months than SLEDNET has seen in the last few years,” Sidley said.

Following past experience investigators explored Sacramento and Reno as possible entry points for the illegal substance. During the investigation two undercover SLEDNET agents allegedly met with Landa on two occasions in both the South Lake Tahoe and Reno areas and purchased 1/4 pound of methamphetamine each time.

On Jan. 7, the agents met with Landa in the parking lot of Harveys to purchase a pound of methamphetamine. Investigators estimated the total street value of the drugs seized at $40,000. Landa was arrested without incident, officers from all three agencies were present and the DEA offered helicopter air support.

Sidley said they knew Landa frequented the South Shore area and casinos, but that they had no specific link between him and Harveys.

Investigators could not comment on how the methamphetamine might have been transported from Mexico to Reno, but said with increased drug enforcement by the DEA at the Reno airport it appears drug trafficking is not restricted to commercial planes. Sidley said dealers are also using ground transportation.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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